Weihaiwei

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Weihaiwei was a territory in Shandong province, eastern China, which was held by the United Kingdom as a leased territory between 1898 and 1930. The area occupied included the walled city of Weihaiwei, the offshore island of Liukungtao, and and a cordon of surrounding territory several miles broad. In total, the territory occupied 288 square miles, although Chinese self-government was recognised within the walled city of Weihaiwei.

The harbour at Weihaiwei had been developed as a naval base by the infant Chinese navy in the 1890s, with naval facilities on Liukungtao Island. It was the scene of a naval battle during the first Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 and was occupied by Japanese forces, who continued to occupy the area following the conclusion of peace pending the payment of a large indemnity by China. The Japanese evacuated Weihaiwei in 1898 and the territory was promptly occupied by the British. This took place by pre-arrangement with the Chinese court, who sought British occupation as a counter to counter the recent Russian occupation of Port Arthur, a few score miles to the north across the Bay of Pechihli. The territory was leased to Britain for so long as the Russians might occupy Port Arthur; however, when Port Arthur fell to the Japanese during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, no moves were made to evacuate the port. Indeed, only in 1921, at the Washington Conference, did Britain agree to start negotiations with China on Weihaiwei. These were protracted, as a result of both British procrastination and unrealistic demands, and of the chronic political instability of China in the 1920s: one potential deal collapsed at the last moment following the coup d'etat of the warlord Feng Yuxiang in Beijing in October 1924; and the control of Shandong by a local warlord of villanous reputation also delayed matters. Eventually, following the conquest of north China by the Guomindang in 1928, an agreement was reached, and Weihaiwei was evacuated by the British on 1 October 1930, although the naval base continued to be used for several years as a summer station, by agreement with the Chinese authorities.

Weihaiwei is now known as Weihai.

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